Thursday, September 5, 2013

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Soccer on TV/Computer This Weekend

NASL Play-offs Free Stream and EPL On FOX Again and
Every weekend, we fortunate soccer fans in the Huntsville area have a wealth of soccer options to watch on TV and the Internet.  I've compile a list of games I'll be trying to catch on Saturday and Sunday.  This week will include the NASL.  The USA's second division playoffs begin on Saturday evening and they are being streamed for free via U-Stream.  Also, for the second time this season, FOX54 will be airing a tape delayed game from the EPL.  This time the North London Derby will be feature as Spurs and Arsenal line-up against each other at White Hart Lane at 1 p.m. on Sunday.

Here's the weekend's offerings with the my picks for the best games in bold

England, Everton-Liverpool 6:30 a.m. ESPN2
Germany, Hoffenheim-Bayern Munich 8:30 a.m. GolTV

Germany, Hertha Berlin-Cologne 11:30 a.m.
Italy, Inter Milan-Napoli 1:30 p.m. Fox Soccer
MLS, Houston-Chicago 3 p.m. Telefutura
Mexico, Morelia-Tecos 5 p.m. Fox Deportes
NASL, Ft. Lauderdale Strikers-FC Edmonton, U-stream
NASL, FC Tampa Bay-NSC Minnesota Stars, U-steam
MLS, Toronto-New York 6:30 p.m. Fox Soccer
MLS, New England-Seattle 6:30 p.m. Direct Kic
MLS, Colorado-Dallas 8 p.m. Direct Kick
MLS, Los Angeles-Real Salt Lake 9:30 p.m. Direct Kick
MLS, San Jose-Kansas City 9:30 p.m. Direct Kick

England, Spurs-Arsenal 10 a.m. Fox Soccer
Germany, Hamburg-Schalke 10:30 a.m. GolTV

Spain, Gijon-Barcelona 1 p.m. GolTV
England, Spurs-Arsenal 1 p.m. FOX
Italy, Juventus-AC Milan 1:30 p.m. Fox Soccer
MLS, Columbus-D.C. United 4 p.m. Direct Kick
Spain, Espanyol-Real Madrid 3 p.m. ESPN2
MLS, Vancouver-Portland 4:30 p.m. Direct Kick
MLS, Chivas USA-Philadelphia 7 p.m. Direct Kick

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Best League in the World?; UAH Wins at Home, Loses on the Road; UAB Cracks the Top 25

What is the best league in the world?

Lately, there's been a lot of debate in soccer circles as to what is the best league in the world.  No doubt, some of that debate is spurred by statements by the MLS brass that they have shifted thier focus from a survival mode to a quest to become the "best league in the world".  It's an interesting question, but what exactly do we mean when we say "best league in the world"?
 Surely, we can narrow the list of hopefuls down immediately to the European leagues, sometimes called the big four, the English Premier League (EPL), the German Bundesliga, the Italian Serie A, and the Spanish Premira (La Liga).  Sadly, as much as I believe that Major League Soccer is underrated, the reality is that MLS doesn't yet come close to being included in the conversation.   An argument could possibly be made to include the Mexican and Brazilian top flights, but world wide reach of those leagues aren't anywhere near the top four. 
MLS not in this debate
For me, the best league in the world must have:

  1. Quality teams: From top to bottom the teams must be good and able to make for exciting matches.  In other words, there must be parity, so that a league leader's match against a cellar dweller is not a forgone conclusion.  The EPL certainly has strong teams from 1-12, but there are some stinkers at the bottom.  La Liga sees a major drop off after the top 8.  The Bundesliga has good parity throughout making even the bottom table match-ups exciting.  Serie A has pretty good parity this season.
  2. Fan participation and attendance:  There's no question that games with fans who are into the what's happening on the field dial up the intensity and excitement.  However, a few thousand die-hards just can't make up for tons of empty seats in a stadium.  So, attendance across the league must be good. The Bundesliga surely has the advantage here, as they are the best attended league in the world, and their stadiums rock for each match.  Too many of the EPL, La Liga, and Serie A matches are half empty toward the end of the season. 
  3. Champion diversity:  Perhaps this is just different version of my first point about league parity, but a league with one or two teams who dominate the league is a bummer for everyone.  All the league's have deficiencies in this area. See Madrid and Barcelona, Inter and Milan (maybe not this season), Chelsea and ManU, and Bayern Munich.
From those requirements, my pick for the best league in the world is the Bundesliga.
Although they might not have the best teams in the world (Manchester United and Barcelona lead that debate), the league top to bottom provides the most exciting and entertaining games.  Each Bundesliga game is played at a very high level with exciting, attack-minded tactics in front of loud, boisterous crowds.  Despite Bayern's relative dominance in the competition, there have been 4 different champions in the past 5 seasons that provides a level of parity not seen in the other leagues.

UAH Split Results Against Georgian Opposition

Last Saturday, UAH matched its win total from the previous season with a 5:0 shutout of Georgia Southwestern.  The goals came from five different scorers as Mitch Wilson, Jared Muggleton, Kyle Simmons, Oscar Leon, and Brandon Lemier each notched one.  The performance capped an excellent week from Kyle Simmons who was named GSC Player of the Week.

The Chargers then took to the road for the first time this season at North Georgia State.  A slow start saw UAH down three goals after only 22 minutes.  Despite waking up and attempting to make a game of it with two goals from Ragnar Gunnarsson before the end of the first half, NGSU ended all doubts with three unanswered in the second half to hand UAH a 6:2 loss.

UAH (4-3-0) will try to turn things around when they travel to take on St. Leo on Sunday.

UAB Ranked in National Polls
After starting the season with seven games without a loss, UAB, the only Division I NCAA team in Alabama, have been honored with rankings as high as the 20th position in the various national rankings.  Surely a loss to a tough Portland team will knock UAB down a few notches, but the Blazers expect to continue their early success in the hopes of making an appearance in the NCAA College Cup to be held in Hoover, AL this year.  

Saturday, September 17, 2011

I HEART DirecTV, EPL on FOX on Sunday

DirecTV Still The Way to Go in Huntsville

A few years ago, I posted a study on which Huntsville area TV package provides the most soccer for the discriminating fan.  Since that post nearly two years ago, the landscape of soccer on TV has changed a little bit; FOX networks showing EPL and Champions League; NBC and NBC Sports (Versus) soon to show MLS matches; and Sentanta is replaced by FOX Soccer Plus.  However, my recommendation remains the same.  DirecTV is the soccer lovers choice here in Huntsville.

Note:  The development of soccer on the Internet is a greatly welcomed addition to soccer viewers choices.  From MLS Matchday Live,,, and the various reliable (and nefarious) live streams of matches across the globe adds literally hundreds of additional choices to the soccer fan's menu.  I won't attempt to describe these here, but they are still a viable option for someone looking to view matches on the cheap.

So, here's some update info for soccer on TV in Huntsville.

Leagues/Competitions: Networks

American MLS: ABC, ESPN2, FOX Soccer (FSC), FOX Soccer Espanol (FSE), MLS Direct Kick, RSNs, (2012: NBC, NBC Sports)
English EPL: FOX, FSC, FSP. FSE, RSNs,
Italian Serie A: FSC, FSP, FSE
Spanish La Liga: GolTV, DirecTV LaLiga Channels
German Bundesliga: GolTV
Brazilian Pulista Championship: GolTV
Columbian League: GolTV
Australian A League: FSC
Scottish Premier League: FSP
Mexican MFL: FSE, GolTV, Univision, Telemundo
UEFA Champions League: FOX, FSC, FSP, RSN, DirecTV Europa Channels
UEFA Cup: GolTV, DirecTV Europa Channles
Copa Libertadores: FSE
Concacaf Champions Cup: FSC, FSE
World Cup/Friendlies: ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNClassic, FSC, FSP, FSE, GolTV, Univision
American USL/NASL: FSC

To catch all of this soccer action here are the packages you need.

DirecTV Premier Package: Includes FOX, ABC (WAAY), ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNews, ESPN Classic.

DirecTV Sports Pack Package: Includes the major Soccer related channels like Fox Soccer Channel, Fox Sports Espanol and GolTV. Also included are the regional sports networks (RSNs) and others channels that show the occasional Soccer match or two (ESPNU, CBS College Sports, etc.)  This package also includes at no extra charge the DirecTV Europa Channels (480-489) and Spanish LaLiga (477-479) channels which show all of the Champions League and Europa League matches including a mix channel to watch them all simultaneously.  If you've not seen this Mix Channel in action, you are missing out.  I often record the games with Americans and watch later.   IT ABSOLUTELY ROCKS!

DirecTV's Europa Mix Channel is Awesome!

*FOX Soccer Plus: This is a channel that DirecTV offers that is not included in the Sports Pack and used to be called Setanta. You must pay an extra $15 a month for the channel.  It broadcasts EPL matches, SPL, Italian Serie A, and English 1st division matches. I personally don’t think it is worth the extra money, and that's probably why Sentanta went out of business.  I suppose if I followed a certain team in one of those competitions, I might reconsider. 

MLS Direct Kick: This is the best deal around. For a once a year fee of $70, you get all of the MLS matches not shown on ABC, ESPN2, FSC, or Telefutura including play-off games. That’s over 200 games a year. This is how I watch my beloved DC United.

So, as you can see, there is plenty of soccer to be seen, if you know where to get it. 

FOX54 To Show ManU-Chelsea on Sunday

Keeping with the soccer on TV theme of this post,  FOX54 will air the Manchester United-Chelsea match at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday.  The local over-the-air FOX affiliate will show the tape delayed match that will originally air on FOX Soccer earlier in the day.  The match-up of EPL giants will go up against prime NFL broadcasts including the Chargers-Patriots game over on WHNT.

It will be interesting to see if any casual gridiron fans will be turned to the dark side by this game.  I feel conflicted about this for a couple of reasons that are well put by Jason Davis at Match Fit USA.    And then again, maybe I'm just afraid that my love of the game will be overtaken by bandwagon jumpers.

This isn't the only broadcast of EPL matches this season.  There will be at least two more broadcasts in the next two months.  As always, I'll let you know when they do.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

UAH Drops Montevallo In Impressive Fashion, 3:1

Behind two goals from freshman Kyle Simmons, University of Alabama-Huntsville took a large scalp in the fourteenth ranked University of Montevallo.  UAH came out with their hackles up and tallied first after 15 minutes.  Kyle Simmons volleyed Felix Hjalmarsson's cross in from close range.  Montevallo, stunned, attempted to put together a response on Jordan Steelman's goal.  Steelman was making his first start as UAH first choice keeper Kel Markert is serving a suspension.  The Falcons nearly equalized on several occasions only to be frustrated by the Assistant Referee's flag each time. 

However, the Falcons would find the equalizer off a second half corner kick from when Jackson Tolleson nodded home Tyson Eyo's delivery in the 54th minute.  UAH and Simmons were quick to respond when 3 minutes later fellow freshman Mitch Wilson danced around two defenders and served up a ball for Simmons to jackhammer home with his noggin for his team leading 6th goal in 5 games.

The Chargers weren't finished though.  In the 75th minute, Jarrod Muggleton delivered a precise free kick that Hjalmarsson met with aplomb to put the match out of reach and give UAH its biggest win in years.  UAH is brimming with confidence heading into its next match at Charger Field on Saturday at 3PM against Georgia Southwestern.

Friday, September 9, 2011

UAH Wins, Maryland-Under Amour Soccer Boots

UAH Shuts Out Christian Brothers

University of Alabama-Huntsville picked up its second win of the season on the back of a strong defensive effort and the creativity of sophomore forward Felix Hjalmarsson.  Coming off a soggy 1:2 overtime loss to at home to Lincoln Memorial University on Sunday, the Chargers (2-1) shutout victory give the team confidence through the 3rd of their season opening 6 straight home games. 

The Charger defense held strong through out the match, and the Icelandic forward Hjalmarsson would reward them with a goal in the 80th minute from a nice combination with midfielder and fellow Icelander Ragnar Gunnarson.  It was the frosty forward's second goal of the season.  Hjalmarsson wasn't finished as he and freshman forward Mitch Wilson combine to seal the win with Wilson's goal in the 83rd minute.

The Charger's will hope to keep the momentum going when they host Tennessee Wesleyan on Saturday at 2:30 PM at Charger Field.

University of Maryland Flag Soccer Boots Are Awesome!

Fear the Turtle!
The University of Maryland's throwball team has been getting an huge amount of press about their uniforms, but it's the Terps soccer boots that I'm interested in.  The Under Armour Blur boots (and the uniforms) are based on the flag of Maryland with feature the Black and Gold banner of the Calvert family, and the Red and White banner of the Crossland family.
The Terps soccer team also features the Calvert banner
Confession:  I'm was born and raised in Maryland's Calvert County.  So, my opinion in these matters may be a little biased.  I fully understand people who think they are bufugly, but I think they are awesome!

Friday, September 2, 2011

UAH Season Opener, USA v Costa Rica Viewing Party, TV Updates

UAH Kicks Season Off Thursday

UAH hosts Talladega in their season opener at 2PM on Thursday.  Coach Mike Mitchell is looking forward to playing the NAIA school to guage his teams progress from a disappointing season last year.

American Outlaws host USA vs Costa Rica Viewing Party Friday at the Brickhouse

The local American Outlaws chapter will be hosting a viewing party for the USA v Costa Rica match this Friday at the Brickhouse.  Game time is at 10PM and as always there will be food and drink specials.

Soccer On TV Just Got Sexier

Soccer on TV in the USA has reached a few milestones recently.  MLS has announced a major deal with NBC Sports where 45 MLS and USMNT matches will be shown on NBC and the NBC Sports Network (currently called Versus).  Originally, I was lukewarm about the deal, but in the days since,  NBC has announced a major effort to challenge ESPN's dominance and will feature live sporting events like MLS and NHL.  

Another sign that soccer is coming to the mainstream sports consciousness is FOX's announcement that they will broadcast 4 EPL games this season.